WHAT IS BEING DONE FOR $60,000?
Former Attorney General Craig Richards is into his second contract as the governor’s personal attorney, bypassing the Department of Law and not reporting to the new Attorney General. The value of the two contracts is $60,000.
The second contract is concurrent with the first one that he signed with the Department of Law on July 18.
Richards is billing the state (through the Department of Law) $275 an hour.
It’s no secret that the new AG Jahna Lindemuth has no authority over the former attorney general, as he reports directly to the governor. The real work he is performing, as evidenced in the invoices he submitted, shows that he is embedded in the Governor’s Office, not as an attorney but as a consultant. He is an extension of the governor.
By state law, contractors who are not part of a competitive bid are held to a limit of $50,000, but Walker appears to have bypassed that rule by simply writing new contracts every month, allowing them to overlap.
The two contracts deal with slightly different topics: Advice on oil and gas development issues; and advice on fiscal issues. This is the same work he focused on as attorney general
Richard’s first $50,000 contract, which expires Dec. 31, was signed July 18, but his work began around July 5, according to invoices. He had resigned from his position as attorney general just two weeks prior.
Richards is Walker’s former law partner. His sudden resignation was quietly swept under the rug by Walker, who inferred at the time that he expected Richards would remain involved. It’s apparent that Walker had made the prearrangement to take care of his longtime associate.
The question for the public is why would it be OK for an attorney general to announce he is leaving, clean out his desk the same day, and pop up two weeks later and start billing the state at $275 an hour with what looks like an endless supply of contracts?
If he is not fit for the job of AG, is he fit for the job of consultant?
Must Read Alaska obtained some of Richards’ invoices for work performed in July and August, for which he billed $15,500 and $15,000 of his $50,000 limit. He is not allowed to bill more than $25,000 in one month. Other invoices have travel billed separately:
Richards second contract, 17-207-931, overlaps with his first, and both contracts end on Dec. 31, 2016. Here are invoices from his second contract, which commenced Aug. 1, 2016:
UPDATES AND ODDITIES
In early September, Richards made a presentation to the Alaska Permanent Fund Board of Directors, explaining why the Permanent Fund should consider purchasing the overdue tax credits that the governor has suspended payment on indefinitely. The board has decided against that investment, but Richards indicated he was also talking to private equity underwriters about the plan.
One curiosity is seen in the invoice that ends -931, where it appears that Richards and other members of the governor’s staff, with the Chief of Staff, Ed King, Ryan Colgan, are working on a project called Build Alaska. It will likely call for another public records request to ferret out what that project entails.